What is WFH?

WFH is an acronym for “work from home” which describes work being done remotely, instead of at an office. The acronym “WFH” is used as a nickname for the concept. 

Many organizations transitioned their employees from the office to WFH during the Coronavirus global pandemic

How to WFH successfully

Traditionally, work is done in an office. A business functions in a physical workspace and work-related tasks are completed by employees at the office itself. This is changing with the progression of digital transformation. As software capabilities become more complex, and business processes come to rely on them more, companies are finding that many of their employees are no longer bound by a physical workplace in order to work efficiently. Instead, telecommuting, or working from home, can be just as efficient.

Businesses can have a successful WFH workforce if:

Coronavirus and WFH

For many, Coronavirus (COVID-19) put work on hold. Employees or business owners of laundromats and education facilities for example, could not transition to a WFH model. For many service providers however, Coronavirus has pushed them to utilize technology further, and address how they can efficiently and effectively continue to work and function, through digital means. Digital adoption is a key factor in determining how quickly and efficiently a company can function virtually. 

WFH Ready

In the scramble to maintain business continuity during the COVID-19 crisis, some companies were more prepared than others. Before a remote team can be effective, expectations must be clearly defined and a unified communications (UC) solution determined. This is a large task in itself and involves auditing the company, finding a vendor that fits your needs, implementing UC systems, training staff, and possibly even upgrading the internet. 

Beyond a UC solution, CIO’s can help their companies prepare for a remote workforce by taking these steps: 

1. Create a WFH action plan

The plan should encompass all of the following steps and more. Create this plan with the long-term in mind. Check out these insights by Gartner to get started.

2. Reassess infrastructure

Does your organization’s network have the bandwidth to handle remote working? Is the current cloud infrastructure right for this situation? As the digital workplace expands, investment in infrastructure is paramount.

3. Deploy the right tools

Essential tools that are readily available and can handle increased demand is crucial. For effective workflow, collaborative and productivity software must be in place. Ensure you have videoconferencing technology, project management systems, and other apps for communication like Teams, Slack, Zoom, etc.

4. Assist with employee readiness

How aware are you of the current WFH setup of your employees and their equipment needs? Put together a WFH checklist for remote workers: webcam, headset, fast internet, software, etc. Software implementation will require training and IT support – make sure there’s a plan in place.

5. Secure your systems

Security is a top priority. With employees remotely accessing computers and company files, be especially vigilant on the security front. Enforce multi-factor authentication, update virus protection, and make sure employees understand security protocols. 

WFH Adoption

Prior to the pandemic, there were far fewer people working from home. According to a survey by Gartner, after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, 88% of organizations around the world encouraged their employees to work from home or made it mandatory. While many jobs cannot be done remotely, like nursing and cleaning, a lot of industries are capable of fully adopting a WFH model. 

In fact, many companies were offering a work-from-home option, and other work flexibility, before the pandemic. Between these early adopters and those who’ve transitioned – or are in the process now due to COVID-19, the benefits of a WFH model are clear: 

  • 85% of businesses have seen an increase in productivity 
  • Four in five respondents prefer companies with flexible working policies
  • 65% of businesses say flexible workspaces help reduce expenses

Still, there are definitely challenges when it comes to implementing WFH:

  • Increased cybersecurity risks
  • Large investment in equipment and technology 
  • Training and managing a remote team

Despite these difficulties, 33% of U.S companies, (like Twitter), plan on making the majority of positions permanently remote and 55% intend to amp up their budgets to optimize the WFH structure.

Adopting a WFH model necessitates the implementation of new software to assist with business continuity. With that, employees will require training and greater IT support. 

One of the most important elements of WFH adoption is the company culture shift that must take place. For this model to succeed, management has to trust their employees. Open communication is also key.

This new flexible working culture means doing away with the traditional way of working – the idea of a 9-5 job with a long commute to an office. Work is becoming more dynamic and as we move into the future, there will most likely be different models to accommodate changing needs. 

WFH Environment

Setting up a functional home office space is absolutely essential for productivity and morale. Here are some tips for creating an ideal work-from-home environment.

  • A Quiet, Dedicated Space – Try to find the quietest place in your house to designate as your office. It doesn’t need to be big, or even an entire room, but it should be quiet and private. 
  • The Right Equipment – For almost everyone working from home, a computer, headset, webcam, strong internet connection, a desk, and a chair are needed. Most workplaces have guidelines as to the type of headset and internet speed required. As for the chair, make sure it’s comfortable and can be adjusted properly to the height of your desk and monitor. 
  • Proper Lighting – It may seem insignificant, but having good lighting affects how you work. The lighting should illuminate your workspace, but not result in a glare on your screen. 
  • Reliable Internet Connection – Not every internet connection will suffice when telecommuting. Each company will have its own requirements, but, in general, it needs to be fast and reliable. Some workplaces might even require a cabled connection. 
  • Other – Aside from the basics, it’s recommended that you create a space that feels comfortable and encourages productivity. Consider installing a white board, calendar, printer, and a shelf. You might even add some decorative pieces and photos for a personal touch. 

WFH Infrastructure 

Having the infrastructure to support a remote workforce is vital. Due to the increase in telecommuters as a result of COVID, IT spending on infrastructure is projected to reach $200 billion in 2021, a 6% increase from 2020. 

Security is a primary concern and will likely require a hefty investment. IT teams should consider:

  • DNS Protection – Keep users protected from malicious destinations
  • Multi-factor Authentication – Utilize a zero-trust protocol to verify users’ identity and establish device trust
  • Secure VPN – Employees can work from anywhere while the organization retains control and has visibility regarding who’s accessing the infrastructure 

On-premise networks need to be able to handle the increased pressure. Wide Area Network emulators like Apposite’s Netropy let organizations test their network without disruptions. 

Some major components that need to be considered include: 

  • Cloud Storage – Employees will need to access files via the cloud, but network connection issues and remote desktop software could cause problems. Test multiple vendors to find one that works for all employees.
  • VPN – Will employees be required to use VPN? Regardless of how documents are shared, will workers be able to access centralized files when logged onto VPN? Use a WAN emulator to test large data transfers to determine the solution: upgrade remote users’ internet or change the file format. 

Selecting tools that will support remote work and fit your business is essential for a smooth workflow. Keep teams connected and collaborating by exploring the best resources for each aspect:

  • Videoconferencing – Face-to-face interaction enhances employee engagement, productivity, and morale. 
  • Time Tracking – Leave it to employees to track their own time or invest in a time tracking solution.
  • Project/Task Management – Always maintain an overview of tasks and projects and their progression. 
  • Communication & Collaboration – Open and regular communication allows teams to share ideas and chat freely. 
  • Help Desk – It’s wise to invest in software that provides a ticketing solution to support customer service. 

Organizational needs vary, so there may be other tools required to get work done. Don’t forget about setting up systems for requests and reporting technical issues. 

Synonyms for WFH

  • Work from home
  • Working from home
  • Telecommuting 
  • Remote work
  • Working remotely 
  • Virtual work

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